Excerpts from an article in Glaze magazine, May 2009
By Lisa Eriksson
Shannon from Arizona is a friendly, young woman with an unusual experience. For nine months, she carried another person's child. Recently, she was gave birth to a Swedish girl. Exclusive to Glaze she talks about her feelings. "It's pretty strange that this is considered a job, but it's absolutely wonderful!" she says.
Shannon lives in Arizona, USA. She is married and has one son who is two years old. As a teenager, she saw a news report about a woman who gave birth to her daughter's children.
- I thought it was awfully cool. I've always been fascinated by pregnancy and when I got my own son, I felt that I would like to help others to have a child.
She decided to become a surrogate, contacted the agency Circle Surrogacy and was after a long series of surveys and interviews matched with a Swedish couple who were in need of someone who could carry their child. They could not conceive on their own, although it was neither a failure of the egg nor sperm.
Why did you want to become pregnant with their child? - It may sound strange, but I love being pregnant. It is very rewarding in itself to give such a gift to someone else.
You have a son who is two years. Why did you not want to carry another child for yourself instead? - I want to, but not so soon. I wanted to wait a bit.
Is it not science fiction to have another kid in one's stomach? - Well, it's pretty weird. I thought of course "Oh My God, I'm going to carry another person's baby in my belly". It's only modern technology that enabled it. But its wonderful. Even though it is not my child doing the kicking, the heart starts beating and your eyelashes grow.
What is the difference from bearing your own children?
- There was a very big difference both mentally and spiritually. I was not as emotionally tied to my surrogate children.
But once you had the baby in your arms, you must surely have become emotionally attached to it? - No, it is probably so for women who give birth to their child and give it away after birth for adoption, but since the begining, event before I became pregnant I knew that the child was not going to be mine. I communicated with the intended parents throughout the process and were in contact with them even when I took the pregnancy test.
Where the parents ever concerned that you would want to keep the baby? - No, I asked to breastfeed the baby at the beginning, because that would make it easier for me and I would not have to pump milk. Things like that tend to be discouraged because it is possible that it creates an emotional connection to the child. But the parents thought it was a good idea and it shows that they trusted me.
So you never thought of stealing the kid and run? - Haha, no, actually not. After the birth, I was pretty sick because I lost a lot of blood. Then I only thought that it was very nice not to have to take care of a baby.
Did the parents ever monitor what you ate and made sure that you did not drink or smoke? - In the beginning they asked such questions, but I've never smoked nor drank, and eat a lot of organic food, so it was not a problem. But I have heard about other parents who keep on calling and check-in all the time.
Is there a great danger for yourself to be pregnant? What did your husband think of everything? - Yes, we talked about it. It's very rare that something happens, but we took out a life insurance policy in case something would happen. It can also happen that a complication arises during the pregnancy with the entire reproductive system which could lead to me no longer being able to carry additional children; but it felt right for the both of us.
Would you do it even if you did not get paid for it? - When I first started thinking about doing it I did not think of doing it for the money. For me it's mostly an added bonus. If I had a close friend or relative who needed help, however, I would definitely do it for free.
Do you think many others do it for money? - To be clear, I do not think it is necessarily wrong. Rather, it is a good way to earn money whilst one remains at home with the children, as long as they can manage it. However, not anyone can become a surrogate mother. You have to have it pretty good economically, and be completely well physically and mentaly.
Will you keep in touch with the child? - It will be difficult in sense that they live so far away, but they want me to come and see her when she is a bit older.
What did your family and friends think about everything? - They have been very supportive. One woman I talked to at the grocery store thought I was crazy, but it was the only negative reaction.
Do you recommend to others to become surrogate mothers? - Some may become very emotional when they are pregnant, so I do not advocate it for them. It requires a very strong woman, and someone who is not so emotional.